Nutritional supplementation improves kids academic performance

Many medical, nutrition, and education professionals have long suspected that poor diet impairs the academic performance of Western schoolchildren; academic performance often improves after improved diet.

In this study two independent research teams conducted randomized trials in which children were given placebos or low-dose vitamin-mineral tablets designed to raise nutrient intake to the equivalent of a well-balanced diet. Both teams reported significantly greater gains in nonverbal intelligence among the supplemented groups. The findings were important because of the apparent inadequacy of diet they revealed and the magnitude of the potential for increased intelligence. However, none of the ten subsequent replications, or the two original trials, were without limitations leaving this issue in controversy.

This study confirms that vitamin-mineral supplementation modestly raised the nonverbal intelligence of some groups of Western schoolchildren by 2 to 3 points but not that of most Western schoolchildren, presumably because the majority were already adequately nourished. This study also confirms that vitamin-mineral supplementation markedly raises the non-verbal intelligence of a minority of Western schoolchildren, presumably because they were too poorly nourished before supplementation for optimal brain function. Because nonverbal intelligence is closely associated with academic performance, it follows that schools with children who consume substandard diets should find it difficult to produce academic performance equal to those schools with children who consume diets that come closer to providing the nutrients suggested in the U.S. RDA. The parents of schoolchildren whose academic performance is substandard would be well advised to seek a nutritionally oriented physician for assessment of their children's nutritional status as a possible etiology.

J Altern Complement Med. 2000 Feb;6(1):19-29. The effect of vitamin-mineral supplementation on the intelligence of American schoolchildren: a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial.Schoenthaler SJ1, Bier ID, Young K, Nichols D, Jansenns S.

Autism rates up again in the US.

The government has a new estimate for autism — 1 in 45 U.S. children.
The latest figure from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gives for autism based on different surveys; the most rigorous one gives a lower estimate of 1 in 68 children. The new number is from a survey of parents of 13,000 children, who were asked last year if their child were ever diagnosed with autism or a related disorder. The lower CDC estimate is from researchers checking health and school records for more than 47,000 children.
The new number supports a belief that 1 in 68 is an underestimate. Estimates of how common autism is have been steadily increasing. In 2007, the CDC estimated 1 in 150 children had autism.

In 2012 CDC figure estimated it was about one in 88 children in the United States has autism or a related disorder.The 2012 data represented an overall increase of about 25 percent since the last analysis in 2006 and a near-doubling of the rate reported in 2002.Among boys, the rate of autism spectrum disorders is one in 54, almost five times that of girls, in whom the rate is one in 252.

A third and latest CDC survey issued two years ago — also based on parents' responses — came up with an estimate of 1 in 50 children with autism.

Energy drinks do not improve athletic performance. Another lie.

 Some energy drink manufacturers claim that their products can increase athletic performance. If these energy drinks improve performance, oxygen consumption (VO2) and ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) during exercise would likely be reduced during any given exercise intensity. But they don't. Energy drinks are however great for weight gain and other health conditions. The most common adverse events affect the cardiovascular and neurological systems. The most common ingredient in energy drinks is caffeine, and it is believed that the adverse events are related to its effects, as well as potentiating effects of other stimulants in these drinks. 

In this study fifteen (22.1 ± 2.7 years old) participants completed the study. Maximal oxygen consumption (VO2 max) was initially measured to establish each participant's exercise for the 70% treadmill exercise protocol after ingesting an energy drink. Following VO2 max testing, all participants completed a total of four conditions. Each condition required a participant to ingest an energy drink then rest in a seated position for one hour. Following one hour of rest, participants exercised for a total of 15 minutes on a treadmill at 70% of their VO2 max. For each condition, participants blindly ingested one of four price-matched beverages (12 oz. placebo (Squirt), 8.4 oz. Red Bull®, 16 oz. Monster Energy ®, 2 oz. 5-hour ENERGY®). Relative VO2 ( and RPE (6-20 Borg Scale) were recorded each minute during the treadmill exercise and averaged in five-minute increments and as an average for each 15-minute condition.

Analysis showed there was no significant effect of energy drinks on average VO2 for the placebo; Red Bull or Monster. The was also no significant difference between ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) of the placebo, Red Bull or Monster during 15 minutes of treadmill exercise.

The study concluded that energy drinks do not improve perceived treadmill exercise performance nor running economy assessed via oxygen consumption at 70% treadmill exercise. Given that no significant reductions were found in VO2 and RPE post energy drink consumption, results do not support manufacturers' claims regarding their product's ability to boost performance.

Teflon cookware a sticky topic

A common piece of cookware in most kitchens, teflon cookware is a high temperature cookware that is made with material that enable’s it to heat consistently at a lower temperature to prevent burning, and is more resistant to damage caused by sudden temperature changes, and maintains a non-stick surface. Teflon cookware is formulated from Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and Perfluorooctanoic acid (POFA), both being toxic substance which are released into the food and into the air.

Cooking with Teflon enables these gases to be released and penetrate the alveoli creating respiratory problems, causes direct damage to cell membranes of the lungs, elevates cholinesterase activity and increases levels of inorganic fluorides in the human body. Although research on the effects of PTFE on human health is limited, extensive animal studies have shown inhalation exposure to produce adverse health effects in several organs and at higher concentrations even death. Rats exposed to high concentrations developed hemorrhages, edema, fibrin deposition in lungs and damage to the proximal tubule of the kidney. Most alarming however, PTFE releases toxic pyrolysis products in the air that can cause rapid death of birds. Exposure of budgerigars to PTFE pyrolysis products in the air for only 9 minutes produced severe clinical signs, lesions and death of 31 of 32 birds. A similar effect on five cockatiels was also observed in an incident where all five had died within 30 minutes of exposure to an over-heated frying pan containing PTFE.

Of additional concern to the manufacturing of Teflon cookware is the inclusion of Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in its’ non-stick coating. Perfluorooctanoic acid is linked to damaging the human immune system, altering the endocrine system, causing infertility, damaging children’s health and producing development problems, and to be carcinogenic.  One study found PFOA production workers in the U.S. have a three-fold increase in developing prostate cancer. The U.S. EPA state that not only is PFOA a likely cancer carcinogenic, exposure to the chemical also impairs the fertility of women. While exposure to PFOA in utero (to the fetus) has been linked with reductions in newborn birth weight and adverse effects on the skeletal and organ development of the baby. Exposure to POFA from Teflon cookware alters the endocrine system including decreased levels of reproductive hormones and disrupted thyroid hormone regulation.

Other than the emissions from Teflon cookware into the air lesser known side effect of cooking is the creation of indoor combustion air pollutants. Carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and particulate matter (PM) are harmful air pollutants that pose significant short- and long-term health risks. These same pollutants are also some of the most common contributors to unhealthy air inside homes, due in part to cooking. Researchers now understand that the process of cooking food and even simply operating stoves—particularly gas appliances—can emit a cocktail of potentially hazardous chemicals and compounds. Within our homes, these pollutants are less diluted than they are outdoors, and in the absence of proper ventilation, they often are trapped inside. Literally millions of people are routinely being exposed to air pollutants at levels that we don’t allow outdoors


Plastics in heating, cooking and Microwaves

Unfortunately a lot of people do not realise that plastics leach out toxic substances in the food and the rates of this release is often dependent on heating and the type of food. So putting hot food into plastic containers or heating food in plastic containers, which is common with microwave cooking, increases the release of different toxic plastic compounds such as PVC, BPA (Bisphenol A) and plasticizers like and phthalates (DEHA).

DEHA is a phthalate like chemical added to plastics to make them more pliable is a known endocrine (hormone) disruptor and causes testicular and reproductive defects in rats. In studies conducted on rats, DEHA has been known to cause androgenic effects. It was also found to have caused developmental toxicity in rat foetuses.

BPA has been found to cause oestrogenic effects in rats in low exposure, a change in maternal instinct in rats at one fifth the level considered safe and that it causes aneuploidy  (extra or missing chromosones) in mice. Aneuploidy is the cause of spontaneous miscarriage in humans, and causes between 10 and 20 percent of birth defects, including Down's syndrome. This implicates BPA in a suite of health problems.

“Microwave safe” is not a health claim and has no bearing on the movement of chemicals into the food. Instead it is a warning that the plastic will not physically deteriorate if exposed to microwaves. That is it will not melt. Many of the microwave safe products use polyethylene instead of other plastics such as PVC as polyethylene has no plasticizers. PVC is a known liver cancer causing agent.